A walk-in bath is a special kind of bathtub designed primarily to help the elderly, disabled and others who struggle with mobility. It includes a special watertight door through which the user can enter and exit the tub, removing the need to climb over the side. The user simply enters the tub, closes the door, the tub fills, the user bathes, the tub drains and finally the user exits. Simple!
Walk-in baths have been a life-changing addition to many homes, allowing those who struggle with mobility to remain independent and bring some enjoyment back to their bathing experience.
Operating a Walk-In Bath
First, let’s cover in a little more detail how the walk-in bath works. Some people see walk-in baths for the first time and wonder how they work safely without flooding the bathroom. Below is a more detailed overview of how they are properly operated.
Step 1: The tub user will open the door and take their seated position within the walk-in tub before closing and sealing the door. They typically feature such a seat to further simplify ingress and egress from the tub.
Step 2: The user fills the tub to the desired depth and water temperature. Once filled, they can bathe at their leisure.
Step 3: The water is drained while the user waits. Once empty they can exit the bath, dry off and dress.
As you can see, the side door on the tub is the key component that makes it work, as well as the seat within the bath itself. To reduce risk of accidental flooding of the bathroom, most walk-in baths are designed with doors that open inwards. This means that when they are subject to pressure from the water after filling the tub, they remain solidly closed.
Some tubs are designed with outward-opening doors. These provide easier access and allow for a smaller space-saving tub for small bathrooms. The watertight seals and latches on these doors are typically made with additional strength to stay firmly closed when the tub is full.
Advantages of Walk-In Baths
1. They allow those who struggle with mobility to retain independence
First of all, installing a walk-in bath allows the elderly, disabled, and others who struggle with mobility to retain their independence and maintain normality in their lives. Some are forced to trade in the facility of a bathtub for a walk-in shower with a seat, which provides a safer place to bathe, but is less desirable. If they keep the bathtub, they are forced to have help from carers or family members at bathing time, which for many is another undesirable outcome.
With easy access to the tub and a safe seating position, users of walk-in baths can keep their routines the same and enjoy that sense of living independently.
2. Includes a seat, which removes risks of slipping
For those who struggle with mobility, the typical bathing position in a bathtub presents another set of problems, both for getting into and out of the bath. Even if they get over the sidewall of the tub, they then have to safely lower themselves into the water without slipping, and that can be a struggle, even with the installation of grab bars.
The seats within walk-in baths make getting into the bath as easy as just sitting and standing, which even for those with limited mobility is a much easier proposition. They also prevent the user from accidentally sinking into the water in the event that they fall asleep, experience a seizure or some other event that might make them temporarily lose consciousness.
3. They remove the need for a sliding shower door
We mentioned above that a walk-in bath means that there’s no need to install a walk-in shower with a seat. Walk-in baths are much safer than showers with their usual sliding doors because many users of walk-in showers end up using the door railings to support their weight as they stand. Shower door railings are not typically designed to do this. If they break under the weight, then a serious fall or other accident can occur.
4. Installation can increase the value of your home
A walk-in bath is also a solid investment because it can add value to your home. If you ever wish to sell your home, an existing walk-in bath is going to be a huge plus for any elderly buyer or other buyer with limited mobility. The extra money you get for the house is worth it for the buyer who doesn’t need to look through catalogues, deal with contractors, and go through the expense and hassle of installing their own.
5. Baths have health benefits or seniors
Finally, walk-in baths are a great choice because the experience of a warm and immersive bath has numerous health benefits for seniors, and can do far more for them than a shower can. Immersion in warm water with added ingredients like bath salts and similar products, and with the help of hydrotherapy/massage jets that many walk-in tubs also have can create a very therapeutic experience for the user. It can help ease up aches and pains, help those dealing with problems like arthritis, and much more.
Common Myths About Walk-In Baths
There are many things that people say and understand about walk-in baths that are actually untrue. Below are some examples:
Myth: Walk-in baths use more water: In fact, when you compare walk-in baths with regular baths, there’s either no difference, or regular baths use more water. The average walk-in bath uses about 50 gallons of water, and a regular bath can use anywhere from 42 to 80 depending on the size. Even a shower can use up to 40 gallons if the flow from the shower head is fast. In other words, walk-in baths are not vehicles for greater water consumption.
Myth: Elderly who use walk-in baths are at a great risk of catching a chill
There is some concern that as the tub is filling and emptying that users might catch a chill while waiting. This is easily overcome by having towels by the tub for those moments, and so isn’t a real problem.